●Edition 3: Moving Away
Sep. 12–Nov. 30 2018

bauhaus imaginista. Moving Away: The Internationalist Architect, Moscow

  • Garage Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Goethe-Institut Moskau

Hannes Meyer, Untitled, ca. 1925–26, gta Archives / ETH Zurich, © Heirs after Hannes Meyer.

During its brief 14-year existence, the Bauhaus (1919–33) was actively engaged in the international movement of modernism. The school’s first director, Walter Gropius, one of the members of the International Congresses of Modern Architecture (CIAM), helped create a network of modernist architects spread throughout Europe and the United States—as did its third and last director, Mies van der Rohe. Hannes Meyer, the school’s second director, was in dialogue with the avant-garde of the Soviet Union and Latin America. The school’s worldwide reputation made it fundamentally important to the creation of modernist conceptions of form, method and ethos in architecture and design.

Hannes Meyer & Hans Schmidt, Schweizer Städtebauer bei den Sowjets (Swiss city planners in the Soviet Union), 1932, Brochure, gta Archives / ETH Zurich, Hannes Meyer.

The Moscow iteration of the exhibition series bauhaus imaginista: Moving Away traces the complex relationship between the Bauhaus and the Soviet Union through the experiences of former Bauhaus teachers and students in Moscow in the 1930s. From its very beginnings, Bauhaus design ideas were profoundly influenced by the Russian avant-garde, with lines of communication between it and the Moscow design and architecture school Vkhutemas (1920–30) established early on. When Hannes Meyer arrived in 1927 to start the newly established building department at Bauhaus Dessau, these Russian ties were strengthened through regular visits, guest lectures and exhibitions.

Following his politically motivated dismissal in 1930, Meyer and seven of his Bauhaus students travelled to Moscow at the invitation of the Soviet government, such visits by architects and other engineering professionals being common at that time. While in the Soviet Union, Meyer worked for a series of institutes and collaborated on several urban projects. Meyer’s former students would continue to work for Soviet state agencies well after his departure for Switzerland in 1936, leading teams designing educational facilities, interiors and housing schemes. They conducted urban studies and undertook the large-scale planning of new town developments such as Orsk in the southern Ural region. When under Stalin’s regime, avant-garde ideas were summarily rejected, several Bauhaus architects were imprisoned and even given death sentences. Many left the Soviet Union with the Stalin purges, relocating, variously, to Europe, Asia or South America. Throughout the mid-twentieth century, in locales as diverse as Hungary, Chile, the German Democratic Republic and North-Korea, one could find Bauhaus-trained architects working as city planners and educators.

bauhaus imaginista: Moving Away focuses on some of these architects/planners: second Bauhaus director Hannes Meyer; Philipp Tolziner, who became a permanent Moscow resident; the recently deceased Konrad Püschel, who died a Weimar resident; and Lotte Stam-Beese, the first woman to study at Bauhaus Dessau’s building department. Today, holdings from their estates are spread across several institutions: the Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, the archive of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, the archive of the Deutsches Architekturmuseum Frankfurt (DAM), the gta Archive at ETH Zurich and the Netherlands Architecture Institute. Each institution has its own system and history, expressing the power structures and modes of selection behind collecting, while each estate exhibits the subjectivity and the partial, precarious and contingent status of what these architects left behind.

For the exhibition at Garage Contemporary Museum of Art, contemporary practitioners have been invited to respond to these personal archives, producing reading of material relating to the architects’ socialist backgrounds and work in the Soviet Union. Each invited practitioner has also produced a proposal on how to contextualize archival knowledge. These different takes on the archive correspond with the subjective nature of storytelling revealed in the personal papers of the Bauhaus architects themselves.

These archival responses have been commissioned from an international group of figures who deal with geopolitical, social and design histories: the artist Alice Creischer, theorist Doreen Mende, and researchers Tatiana Efrussi and Daniel Talesnik. The exhibition is comprised of these responses and will also include material generated through participants’ readings, as well as selected archival holdings chosen by the curators. The architecture and design group Kooperative für Darstellungspolitik has provided advice on exhibition design.

As part of the exhibition’s public program, artist Wendelien van Oldenborgh will present her research for a new commission exploring the life and contemporary legacy of Lotte Stam-Beese, who, after implementing her ideas in Orsk, in 1935 moved to the Netherlands, becoming famous after World War II for her work reconstructing Rotterdam. Van Oldenborgh’s work will premiere at the centenary exhibition at Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) in 2019.

Unknown photographer, Members of the Hannes Meyer group in Moscow (Lusja Petrowskaja, Konrad Püschel, Tibor Weiner), 1932, Konrad Püschel Estate, Bauhaus Dessau Foundation.

●Event documentation
●Slide Show
Photo Documentation of the Exhibition and Lectures in Moscow

Photos: Silke Briel → more

Video Documentation of the Exhibition in Moscow

Video: Silke Briel → more

●Artist Work
Sketch One: Lotte and Hermina — Script-Reading and Screening by Wendelien van Oldenborgh

The script that the artist Wendelin van Oldenborgh created for bauhaus imaginista: Moving Away. The Internationalist Architect as a public moment is an insight into the development of her larger film project which will premiere as a contribution to the bauhaus imaginista exhibition at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, March 2019. It features archive material around the personas Lotte Beese and Hannes Meyer, Hermine Huiswoud and Langston Hughes. → more

●Artist Work
To Philipp Tolziner

For the exhibition bauhaus imaginista: Moving Away. The Internationalist Architect at Garage Contemporary Museum of Art, the contemporary artist Alice Creischer has been invited to respond to the personal archive of Bauhaus architect Philipp Tolziner. She produced reading of material relating to the architect’s socialist backgrounds and his work in the Soviet Union.  → more

●Slide Show
From the Philipp Tolziner Archive, 1928–67 — Selection of Personal Documents

In his personal archive the architect Philipp Tolziner collected and preserved his works from his time at the Bauhaus, as well as information on the migratory existence of Bauhaus teacher Hannes Meyer and the seven students who worked as a group in the Soviet Union. → more

The Archive Talks — Conversations, Presentations and Lectures by Artists and Researches

For bauhaus imaginista contemporary practitioners have been invited to respond to the estates and produce readings of material relating to the socialist work and backgrounds of the four protagonists. In the frame of the opening artists and researchers Alice Creischer, Tatiana Efrussi, Thomas Flierl, Doreen Mende, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Daniel Talesnik presented their different takes on the archives. → more

●Location and Partners
Location and Partners of the Exhibition in Moscow

The exhibition bauhaus imaginista. Moving Away: The Internationalist Architect is open from 12 September until 30 November 2018 at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow. 

The Goethe-Institut Moscow is the partner of the events around the exhibition. → more

●Related Articles
Hamhŭng’s Two Orphans (To Konrad Püschel) — East German Internationalism in North-Korea Emerging through a Chronopolitical Lens

Doreen Mende’s work Hamhung’s Two Orphans, which borrows its title from a chapter of the cine-essay Coréennes (1959) by Chris Marker, proposes to trace the transformation of the Bauhaus’s relevance from its prewar internationalist modernity into elements of the GDR’s socialist internationalism when architecture operated as a state-crafting instrument during the global Cold War. → more

Communistic Functionalist — The Anglophone Reception of Hannes Meyer

Philip Johnson described Hannes Meyer as a “communistic functionalist” whose most notable achievement was to have preceded Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as director of the Bauhaus. The position he assigned to Meyer was reinforced in the Bauhaus Exhibition of 1938 at MoMA. The particular view of the Bauhaus presented at MoMA in 1938 corresponds to the place of Meyer in the historiography of modern architecture in the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s. The view that Meyer’s work allegedly lacked aesthetic interest, rendering it irrelevant to an Anglophone audience. → more

Moving Away to the Other End of the World — Reflections on the Letters Between Tibor Weiner and Hannes Meyer from the DAM Archive

This article examines the correspondence between a teacher (Hannes Meyer) and his former student (Tibor Weiner), who met at the Bauhaus in Dessau, going on to live for a period in the Soviet Union. Each migrated to Latin America shortly before the outbreak of World War Two, and returned to Europe in the late 1940s. The surviving letters between Meyer and Weiner, preserved in the DAM Archive in Frankfurt am Main, are not only a testimony of comradeship but also a window into some key moments in the first half of the twentieth century. → more

●Artists Work
Bauhaus in Russia — Haunted Houses

The following material was produced during the photographic workshop Bauhaus in Russia: Haunted houses, which took place in the framework of the exhibition bauhaus imaginista. Moving Away: The Internationalist Architect at the museum of contemporary art Garage in Moscow. Through an open-call we invited participants from several Russian cities to take part in the visual research on both the visible and invisible legacies of the “bauhauslers”. → more

Praised, Sentenced, Forgotten, Rediscovered — 62 Members of the Bauhaus in the Land of the Soviets

In this interview with Astrid Volpert, she reviews her decades of research on Bauhäusler who emigrated to the SU and makes it clear that there were far more than seven of them heading east. Persons traveling from the Bauhaus to Russia were from eleven countries. They belonged to various denominations—there were Protestants and Catholics, Jews and atheists. Of the 15 women and 47 men, only 21 of them were members of communist parties. → more

After the Ball — Hannes Meyer Presenting the Bauhaus in Moscow

Hannes Meyer arrived in the USSR just a couple of months after being dismissed from his position as Bauhaus director in October 1930. These months were filled with attempts by Meyer and his supporters to protest this decision through all possible means: media campaigns, open letters, student demonstration and court trials. After arriving in Moscow, Meyer carried on the fight against his unfair dismissal. → more

The Moscow Bauhaus Exhibition Catalogue (1931)

When Hannes Meyer had emigrated to the Soviet Union in 1930, one of the first things he did was organizing an exhibition about “his” Bauhaus. As early as in February 1931 Meyer had the exhibition Bauhaus Dessau. Period of Hannes Meyer’s directorship. 1928-1930 already ready to receive the Moscow public. It was shown at the renown State Museum of New Western Art. This is the first English translation of the exhibition catalogue. → more

Meyer’s Russia, or the Land that Never Was

It is quite hard to know where to start with Hannes Meyer in Moscow. It’s hard because, while there is plenty of documentation on him and his team in the Bauhaus Brigade—as well as other Western designers and architects (of these, Ernst May is at least as significant as Meyer, as is the Dutch designer Mart Stam, and each went on to produce more substantial work than Meyer after their respective Russian episodes)—the legacy of his work there presents certain difficulties in evaluating. → more

From Recognition to Rejection — Hannes Meyer and the Reception of the Bauhaus in the Soviet Union

The history of the Stalinist critique of the Bauhaus and Hannes Meyer has two chapters. The first chapter spans the time from 1929 to the Architects’ Congress in the Soviet Union in 1937; the second consists in the condemnation of the Bauhaus in the GDR that took place on the trip by East German architects to Moscow in spring of 1950. This text tells the story of the first chapter. → more